Feb. 2, 2011
Signing Day Central
DeKALB, Ill. - The blizzard that roared through northern Illinois Tuesday night and Wednesday morning did nothing to interrupt the momentum of first-year Northern Illinois Head Coach Dave Doeren and his coaching staff, even if they couldn't access their offices to receive the first fax transmissions of signed National Letters of Intent until 8:30 a.m. Central, nearly two-and-a-half hours into the signing period.
When the roads around the Yordon Center were cleared and the coaches got to the fax machine, they found the signatures of an impressive group of 22 future Huskies. The list includes 10 defensive players, 10 offensive players and two specialists, one of which is also listed at linebacker.
The key to the group, according to Doeren, was "fit."
"We found some guys that really fit our profile of NIU football players," Doeren said. "They are tough, hard-nosed, physical, dependable guys. We found guys from winning programs, guys who have won state championships. I am very pleased with this class. I don't think anyone got signed because we needed a name on the list. These are guys that we feel are good enough to play and be here at Northern Illinois. We are adding these guys to our family and I'm not going to take a guy just to take him. I feel really excited and very proud of this group of men that are joining our team, our family."
The newest Huskies hail from eight different states as Doeren and his staff scattered throughout the country to ink this year's names. Northern Illinois signed six players from Missouri and five from Florida, areas Doeren has recruited over the last several years, and brought in four players from Illinois and three from Wisconsin. Indiana, Ohio, Arizona and Kansas will send one player each to NIU.
Northern Illinois' 10 offensive signees play five different positions with the largest concentration at offensive line. On defense, where the Huskies lost three starters to graduation and several other key reserves, NIU added six defensive backs, including three cornerbacks, to go with a pair of defensive linemen and three linebackers.
"Offensively, we got three extremely solid offensive linemen, a very versatile H-Back, two experienced running backs and two playermakers at receiver that will also factor in the return game," Doeren said. "We signed a quarterback [Matt McIntosh] that was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Indiana from a state championship program who is a dual threat guy that fits our system.
"Defensively we signed two linebackers, one inside and one outside, both were team captains and Jason Meehan won a state championship as a junior. We met a large need at cornerback with Jhony Faustin, Paris Logan and Michael Neal, and another need at safety with Tré Moore already on campus as an early graduate. We have two defensive linemen, including one defensive tackle from Chicago [Mason Fuller] who we feel is a steal."
Moore is one of three 2011 signees who enrolled at NIU in January and will participate in spring drills. Junior college transfer running backs Jamal Womble, who spent last season at Hutchinson Community College after attending North Carolina as a freshman, and Leighton Settle, a Wisconsin native who was at Fresno City C.C., are also already on campus.
For Doeren and his staff, who did not gather on campus and begin assembling the class in earnest until January 4, Wednesday represented a big step forward for the NIU program
"I thought the assistant coaches did a good job working together on short notice," Doeren said. "We didn't recruit by area, we recruited together. They crossed over by position. Guys recruited all over. We bounced in and out of houses. We tried to get as many members of our staff into living rooms and in schools as possible to make the kids feel as comfortable as they could with all of us because of the short window of time. It was a collaborative effort."
After spending much of the last four weeks on the road, Doeren and his staff will be in DeKalb preparing the Huskies who are on campus this semester for spring drills, which begin March 22.
-- NIU -
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